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Selfie: How We Became So Self-Obsessed and What It's Doing to Us

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  2,285 ratings  ·  279 reviews

We live in the age of the individual.

We are supposed to be slim, prosperous, happy, extroverted and popular. This is our culture’s image of the perfect self. We see this person everywhere: in advertising, in the press, all over social media. We’re told that to be this person you just have to follow your dreams, that our potential is limitless, that we are the source o

Kindle Edition, 411 pages
Published June 15th 2017 by Picador
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Average rating 3.98  · 
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 ·  2,285 ratings  ·  279 reviews

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Peter Boyle
Oct 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Call me old-fashioned, but I miss the days when humility was regarded as a basic virtue, instead of the rampant narcissism that has invaded modern society. Ours is a generation addicted to Likes and Retweets, attempting to live up to an impossible ideal and in need of constant validation. This very site operates under such a premise - I'm as guilty as anybody in enjoying a little dopamine hit every time somebody clicks the Like button on one of my reviews.

In this engaging study, Will Storr inves
Emma Sea
Jul 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful. Gorgeous writing, and the most engrossing book I've read so far this year. Much more than a look at the rise of 21st century narcissism, but about how the self has been conceptualized throughout Western history and how it links to neoliberalism.

We’re lumps of biology, mashed and pounded into shape by mostly chance events. Our ‘human potential’ is limited. But this isn’t the model of self that our culture keeps showing us. Instead, we’re presented with an individual who has total free
Canadian Reader
Early in Selfie , Will Storr observes that the rise of social media, with its attendant “social perfectionism” (whereby we regularly compare ourselves to others via their meticulously curated online profiles), appears to have made Westerners increasingly dissatisfied with themselves. We live in an age of “heightened individualism”, Storr says, one in which success—being slim, rich, happy, extroverted, and popular—is a personal responsibility. The Western “self” appears to be growing more fra ...more
Apr 10, 2019 rated it it was ok
Public service announcement: this is not, as the title suggests, a book about the impact of social media on our society or psyche. Rather, it is about the author Working Through His Issues around low self esteem, perfectionism, and depression.

I am abandoning this at 65% or so. Thus far, the author has spoken to several psychologists; visited a monastery and debated the impact of his own Catholic upbringing on his emotional development; and stayed at the cult-like Esalen Institute in California t
J & J
Jul 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Agreed. Need self-evaluation...rebooting.
Jul 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
One of the blurbs for this book mentioned that readers who liked “Sapiens” (Yuval Noah Harari) would also enjoy this book; I had and I did. There is the same sense of being in conversation with an interesting fellow inquirer, although my impression of Mr. Storr is that he isn’t as deadly serious as Mr. Harari and that he has a quiet sense of humor about the absurdity of some of his discoveries. He is a long-form journalist and novelist and seems to have combined a reporter’s tenacity in digging ...more
Michael Perkins
Jul 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Because of the way our brains function, our sense of ‘me’ naturally runs in narrative mode: we feel as if we’re the hero of the steadily unfolding plot of our lives, one that’s complete with allies, villains, sudden reversals of fortune, and difficult quests for happiness and prizes. Our tribal brains cast haloes around our friends and plant horns on the heads of our enemies. Our ‘episodic memory’ means we experience our lives as a sequence of scenes – a simplistic chain of cause and effect. Ou ...more
Jun 12, 2017 marked it as maybe

Will Storr interviews a young woman who has hundreds of thousands of selfies stored on memory cards, a hard drive and a sagging, overburdened iCloud. She frequently works through the night to edit and filter her daily quota of new images in readiness for disseminating them on social media. The unexamined life may not be worth living, but do all lives deserve to be examined in such redundant detail? Storr’s informant goes on to confess that she feels most alive when slashing her flesh with a razo
Apr 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: realists, 2018
Two stars for the effort but I thoroughly disliked the style of writing: ironically, I found the author to be self-centered and guilty of narcissism, as he gratuitously inserted himself in the story time and time again. I expected Selfie to be a different book, with more emphasis on research, shedding light on the history of narcissism and how it's been boosted by modern technology. Instead, Selfie starts with anecdotes about suicides and, chapter after chapter, uses long-winded stories about pe ...more
Sep 05, 2017 rated it liked it
I am not being overly dramatic when I say that we are living in a time of increasing levels of mental illness and challenges to emotional health, actual and attempted suicides, unhappy and unfulfilled people, over whelming pressures to be someone that we may not be internally programmed to be. These have always been issues in our communities through the centuries, but in the last fifty years or so there these issues have jumped to the fore of the lives of many many people in our world. But why? ...more
Daniel Rovira
Jun 21, 2019 rated it did not like it
I don't often write reviews, but felt compelled to for this one:

This honestly has to be one of the worst books I've ever read. I find it hard to believe some of the newspapers reviews that this is 'seriously eye opening' or 'electrifying'. Probably no surprise that these reviews were written from places where he worked.

The book starts off with a really crude defense of a man who enjoys violently attacking people, and then finds God. Apparently this is Storr's attempt to show us our tribal selve
Dec 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating book that will help you understand the world we live in today.
Will Storr begins with a simple questions - why has the number of self-harm activities including suicide attempts risen in recent times? He starts out with his hunch that the perfectionist attitude is the root of all this. Is social perfectionism and have-it-all attitude causing people to have an ever increasing standards of success. We are bombarded with inspirational stories which sends out the message that we too are heroes of our own plots, and through hard work and unrelenting authenticity, ...more
Oct 17, 2018 rated it did not like it
Not quite sure what I was expecting, but this was a compilation of stories, not a scientific piece of work.

This topic could have been way more interesting if Storr took a more scientific approach instead of a sociological/anthropological approach. And I say that as a person with an anthropology degree.

Or maybe I expected something different based on the title....

I heavily skimmed the book after Book One, and I don’t think I missed much.
Hamideh Mohammadi
Nov 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I really enjoyed reading this book, it made me think what "self" is ingrained in us Muslim middle-easterners. My copy is full of notes and ideas that I wrote in the margins of the book. The ideology rooted in Greek and Catholic notions, the storytelling left-brain that is busy confabulating our lives, the idea of orthodox vs. orthoprax, the neurotic perfectionistic self, all and all made me want to research the "self" rooted in Persian/Muslim/Middle Eastern/south Asian ideologies. ...more
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is more than a sneer at youth culture. It is a deep exploration of how we got here and some messaging we have been soaking in all our lives. It is a deep read written in an accessible style. Frequently I'd find myself hissing 'yes' as the author articulated something so pervasive but undefined in our culture where you are the product. ...more
Michael Huang
How we like to think of ourselves is heavily influenced by the prevailing culture. While in the western world today, we like to be slim (rooted from the Ancient Greek sculptures), the Tanzanians liked to be fat. As a social animal, we are prone to mimicking the popular/dominant person, including their voice, their likings, etc. The technological changes free us from our environment and make self-determination a new ideal. Thus born the self-help book genre. With it a notion of the importance of ...more
Jul 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I rarely feel compelled make leave reviews, but this book was so informative and thought provoking that i have to make a serious recommendation. A thoroughly interesting insight into how we perceive ourselves and how our culture shapes it, told in a series of stories and easy descriptions of scientific research, complete with the careful but engaging introspection that I've come to love from Will Storr. I will be pondering this book for quite a long time. ...more
Sep 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: what-happened
Will Storr's Selfie: How We Became So Self-Obsessed and What It's Doing to Us is less about social media than I worried it would be. Instead, it's more about, well, the self, I suppose. The book, at first glance, is really wide ranging. Jonathan Haidt, Susan Cain, Abraham Maslow, Stewart Brand, Ayn Rand, Margaret Thatcher, Alan Greenspan. Self-esteem, self-discovery, narcissism, personality retreats, Instafame... To some extent, even when a chapter drags, I felt confident that I'd soon find anot ...more
Feb 28, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Will Storr succeeded in exploring the roots of 'the age of perfectionism' we now live in. More precisely, he elucidated how our selves have changed - influenced by neoliberalism, social media, the environment around us...

I have to admit that I felt lost reading 'Book Four'. Even though the journalist Will Storr added interviews and personal experience in between the thoroughly researched materials, I found myself wondering if what he had undergone was actually true. It sounded absurd and the fac
This book was definitely interesting to read. It is no shock that we now live in a society where social pressures cause so many issues; mental health issues and suicide are just some examples.
I liked that Storr openly discussed the topic of suicide; he didn't shy away from it like a lot of people would. Suicide is one of those subjects that is difficult to talk about but needs to be talked about.

Storr definitely had a lot of interesting points within the book but there were moments where I fou
Sep 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was interested in how humans have evolved to taking selfies and was pleasantly surprised that this book delivered much more than a superficial take on it. It reminded me of books by Thomas Friedman and Yuval Noah Harari-yes, it’s about narcissism and social media, but it also talks about personality traits and the quest for perfection and ultimately, happiness. I found this book to be a good surprise in that it is much more than what it advertises to be.
Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don’t think I’ve said this about many books but everyone struggling to understand themselves and how they came to be at this point in life, should read this book.

Also, everyone else should read it too.:)
Astari Masitha
Oct 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Astari by: Auli Aliyev
Shelves: favorites
Beyond my expectations! Will Storr conducted very extensive research to answer the problem of our current society with all these cultures of perfectionism using a neoliberal framework. I find this book most suitable for me especially in addressing how to survive in the age of perfectionism (Also a chapter title in this book). The style of his storytelling is mostly what made me couldn't stop reading. Despite integrating highly academic research backed up with interviews with experts in the field ...more
Justin Drew
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I once had the privilege of seeing the author reading and talk about his previous book 'the heretics' in a Birmingham pub about people who have different and unusual belief systems that favour those more of conspiracy theory than reality. His new book looks more at the self and the self in society. I found it a wonderful book. Looking at a range of selfs (e.g. the dying self, the perfectible self, the good / bad / digital self) telling stories that tell us about ourself and the society we live i ...more
Simon Howard
Jul 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I always love Will Storr's writing. He's remarkably talented and woefully underappreciated for his ability to bring clarity to complex socio-scientific fields. That said, I'm probably biased by my love for the fact that he writes a fair amount about public health issues, which puts him right up my street. I go out of my way to read his journalism, because whatever the topic, his byline guarantees new insights and connections between seemingly disparate facets of a topic.

This book is no exception
Zeynep Şen
Oct 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book has effectively shattered my understanding of the world (well, "my" world, anyways) and my "self". Maybe I should say "selves" because appearantly there's more than one. And the idea that there one, core self, one you that's real? Well, I'm not sure what to call that idea at this point. Myth? Speculation? Wishful thinking? Reality? Know what? Read it and decide for yourselves because I sure as hell couldn't. Fair warning though; at the end of this book you'll either love Will Storr or ...more
May 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Superb one to read coz it switches direction and make a bit interesting to read.

First few chapter more like a psychology book, it helps you understand about self which carve for perfection in order to compete with this world. Some commit suicide coz of not matching it. And interesting chapter like Tribal Self and Perfectible Self

Introduction of Ayn Rand and her team about Self Esteem and Neoliberalism occupy the most of the pages and more like economics and business book
finally Digital Self and
Aug 10, 2018 rated it liked it
The book talk about how self obsessed society grew. It seemed like this giant spider web that connected all the things.

However, i find it hard to follow the story and connect one string with another. Often it feels so jumpy, maybe because my lack of presence. I was reading and reading and reading and finally i realize don't understand the point he's trying to tell. But the last chapter saved it all.
Chris Blumzon
May 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Way more in-depth than the slightly trite title may suggest, this is one of my favourite books for a while. Recommended
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Will Storr is a long-form journalist, novelist and reportage photographer. His features have appeared in The Guardian Weekend, The Telegraph Magazine, The Times Magazine, The Observer Magazine, The Sunday Times Style and GQ, and he is a contributing editor at Esquire. He has reported from the refugee camps of Africa, the war-torn departments of rural Colombia and the remote Aboriginal communities ...more

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7 likes · 2 comments
“One of the dictums that defines our culture is that we can be anything we want to be – to win the neoliberal game we just have to dream, to put our minds to it, to want it badly enough. This message leaks out to us from seemingly everywhere in our environment: at the cinema, in heart-warming and inspiring stories we read in the news and social media, in advertising, in self-help books, in the classroom, on television. We internalize it, incorporating it into our sense of self. But it’s not true. It is, in fact, the dark lie at the heart of the age of perfectionism. It’s the cause, I believe, of an incalculable quotient of misery. Here’s the truth that no million-selling self-help book, famous motivational speaker, happiness guru or blockbusting Hollywood screenwriter seems to want you to know. You’re limited. Imperfect. And there’s nothing you can do about it.” 13 likes
“This is where low self-esteem gets built into the core of the machine. For Aristotle, a person had innate potential and was naturally moving towards perfection. But for the Christians, a person was born in a state of sin and falling towards hell. God, not the individual, was where perfection lay. This meant that a person wanting to become more perfect would have to engage in a constant war with themselves – a war, not with forces out in the world, but with their own soul, their conscience, their mind and thoughts. And because perfection only existed outside the human realm, that struggle would always be hopeless. The Christians had given the Western self a soul, and then begun to torture it.” 7 likes
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